Monday, September 14, 2009

not really a 'friend'

for more than 25 years I have had a friend named "C". 

I met her when she was in what I didn't realize was to be the first of many "crisis" - she was in fact being stalked by an ex-boyfriend.  In all fairness, seriously stalked - as in coming out of her apartment to find the nearby bus shelter plastered with 100s of posters begging her to take him back, as in driving down a street, coming to a stop sign and having him leap on the front of her car, as in an average of 125+ messages a day on her phone ... and this was way back when stalking was not considered an issue.  When the one being stalked was inevitably considered "hysterical", "over-reactive" ...

I got involved becuase that's what I do - get involved.  Got in touch with a wonderful feminist on the local paper. Got her help. Got a cop who took her seriously - and after time, it worked - the psycho stopped stalking and her case was in fact one that was used to bolster Ontario's subsequent anti-stalking law.

But in hindsight, the 'stalking' was indicative of what I eventually learned to understand was the chaos of her life. 

She is, was, when all was said and done, unbalanced; in time I came to believe to my soul unbalanced in the sense of chemical imbalance, as in bipolar.  Several counsellors (to my knowledge she has been seeing a succession of psychologists, counsellors, psychiatrists, doctors for more than 30 years) actually highly recommended drug therapy - which she rejected outright and was insensed at the very thought.

For the reality is that it is NEVER EVER HER FAULT.  It is and remains ALWAYS someone's else's FAULT.

She is, in her opinion, painfully honest, straightforward and a wonderful person.  She doesn't understand how again and again she is betrayed, neglected, rejected and hurt.

She is, in truth, one of the most narcissitic, self-absorbed, delusional individuals I've ever known.

Not that I haven't loved and cared about her - recognizing both her pyschosis AND sometimes her innate sweetness.

But it palls after awhile.  She is so invariably high maintenance. You have to double-think everything you say to her, watch every word, and most of all- FOLLOW HER RULES or how she feels she should, deserves, MSUT be treated.

The psychosis, imbalance, whatever the hell you want to call it has been getting definitely worse.  And in so doing, she has becoming increasingly strident, increasingly demanding, increasingly intolerant of what she perceives as any "breech" of protocal with respect to how she is treated.  It has been incredibly wearing.

Two years ago when my own life became unbearably bleak and I entered a pit, I realized that after 20+ years of support, I simply had nothing left in me to give to her.  I told her that upfront. Told her I was going through the Inferno and dying with it and I couldn't balance her out anymore.  Ostensibly, becuase in her delusion she maintains she is a caring, nurturing human being - she pulled back, "gave me my space", but through it all I sensed the increasing anger in her at my withdrawal.

Several times we touched base (keeping in mind, that previous to this "break"- I actually moved her in and got her back on her feet after a HUGE psychotic break - she spent almost 8 months in my home - with no strings, tons of support, no charge for anything and lashings of food and love and ALWAYS an ear and sympathy) and met occasionally for supper or lunch. 

I maintained my distance; was honest with her that I was trying to rebuild my own life. Further, I found my sympathy was rapidly dispersing as she screwed up relationship after relationship, left jobs in a huff, accused "friends" of betrayal and not living up to HER standards. 25 years of the same pattern gets (at some point) very stale indeed.

So I got the letter last week. The terse, accusatory brief missive which basically dismissed me out of her life.

Because we had arranged to meet for dinner on a Friday night. And I emailed Friday morning, early - about arrangements - when and what time.  Apparently, that was a faux pas. I SHOULD have contacted her my PHONE at least three days previous - otherwise I was being "rude and inconsiderate" - and in my email I had mentioned I had been having some hard times - and was told I had NO idea what "real" issues were.

Apparently not.

Regardless, there is a part of me that is sad that this rather symbiotic relationship is done, becuase I'll worry about her you know - I will. Another HUGE part of me is glad if I never ever have to deal with her again.  And feeling guilty for feeling glad.


mouse said...


The very last line, "...feeling guilty for feeling glad." certainly hit home for me. I so understand that feeling.


PK said...

Guilt is a funny thing, easily taken on by those of us who somehow feel responsible for all things, great and small.

However, may I suggest that by allowing her to go, by releasing her from your life (albeit at her request), that it is actually an act of health on your part.

Relationships like that exist because there is a need to be fulfilled -- on both parts.

Strong women like you are forces of nature and because you are, you will pour out that energy generously. It is only when your cup is very low that you realize you have very little left to give.

Personally, I used to run around trying to save everything and everyone and finally realized the only person I really had a chance of saving was myself and even doing that was tricky!

My suggestion would be to release her as she has asked as well your guilt... with love.

Anonymous said...

Selkie, don't be surprised if you hear from her again. I don't think she altogether gone. She just needs more space on your deck to get the attention she wants. You are her audience and quite probably one of the most consistent things in her life. Keep the boundary up or she will drain you. CD

Anonymous said...

This sounded so like an online friendship I have with a wonderful frienemey.

She usually can't handle my need for space...and has no idea what privacy is.

She has called my ex husband... stalked me online...left terrible public comments on the networks we were on... and in general made my life hell at times.

At other times she is very supportive and caring. At this point in our relationship... I have just kinda disappeared from her life. We are both on Facebook... which I only visit occasionally. When I do I have loads of messages, etc to approve from her.

I sometimes miss our closeness. We shared alot about our kids, families, divorce...etc.

But my time is now my own. I am not trying to be cruel to her... I just can't take being close to her anymore.

I pray you have the strength to maintain your distance and do what you meed to do to live your life as you wish it to be.

Blessings and Hugs,


Chloe said...

Antonio once told me:

"You and I are different people, baby. If I see a man struggling on the ground, I'll offer him my hand. But if he doesn't take it, I will walk on by.

"You, however, will sit down with him. Talk to him. Coax him up when he's responsive, and tell him it's okay to lie and rest when it's too much. And that's okay, it really is...

"But there will come a point when you will become tired, hungry, thirsty... And if you don't see that point coming, you will end up just lying down next to him.

"We don't have to try to help people the same way, but for your own sake, and for me, I need you to recognize that point when it comes, stand up, and walk away."


Maybe you hit that point. But all that means is you did everything you could. There does come a point where supporting someone is actually condoning something negative, and there is only so much blood you can sacrifice to the emotional vampires before you put yourself at risk.

My best thoughts to you, and C... May you both be happy and safe.


Jz said...

A good friend said to me a couple of years back, "Well, my husband and I have decided that from now on, we're only going to hang around with people we actually like."

While it made me laugh until my eyes watered, there's actually a great deal of wisdom in that.

Twenty-five years is more than enough time to say you gave it your best shot.

selkie said...

Mouse- it’s true- but I know it wasn’t a healthy (for me) relationship and there were moments she drove me insane.

pk – exactly – I did recognize some years ago that my need to ‘save’ is not healthy for me at all – that ultimately (and I wrote a blog on it LOL)- you can’t fix “broken people”. I think actually it IS a step forward for me to recognize this and even in the first place to pull back – I was proud of my self for that.

CD – one part of me expects it in a way – I probably am the ONLY person in her life that has ever put up with her crap and come back for more. And yes, I coined a phrase many years ago for the stray lambs I seemed to attract – ‘emotional vampires’

SPL – there are similarities – but truth be told, the ‘sharing’ was very one-sided – I never really opened up to her about any issues I had.

Chloe – your Antonio is a perceptive and wise man, and he is right.

Jz - I’ve been actually sorta getting to that point in the past few years … I guess because when you look ahead and there is less ahead than behind, you want to savour and not waste the time remaining.

Gillette said...

Wow..had a situation energetically similar...all I can say is...even though it's a process of letting go, what a GIFT she's given you by firing you as a friend. Way better to deal with guilt than having her be a drain for another 20 years.

I mean..I feel for her as she's obviously in pain. But there comes a time when energy vampires must be let go of so we can survive. I bet you'll feel increasingly lighter as the days go by.